Medal of Honor: Underground

Michael Giacchino

 
" some beauty to the darkness, some colour to the Medal of Honor "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

There is an old saying: "if it ain't broke don't fix it", and this counts twice for DreamWorks. They created a series of games that enhance the thrill and re produce the ideas of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. And they make sure we witness the talent of one Michael Giacchino, a composer that deserves more recognition and specifically a bigger audience.

The Medal of Honor series have reached the second installment with Underground, taking the war records closer to the end of WW2, concentrating on the French resistance and the fight to uphold Paris from the bombings and burnings that Hitler intended in the first place. Michael Giacchino answers by adding more color, more emotional power and with a less than adequate bombastic score. Instead he offers us a rather emotional, colorful and heroic musical palette to underscore the main character of the story, Manon Batiste, a volunteer resistance fighter.

The score starts with "May 10th, 1940" where the threatening tones of the Nazi theme are heard for the first time. In fact this theme is the only surviving asset that Giacchino uses to make a link with its predecessor. Instead of a noble fanfare he reacted with a touching, typically French heroic theme for Manon, supported through accordion and a Resolve theme that is captured through the Seattle boys choir. This theme will make much more impact through time. The impressive choral back up will attract more attention in the following tracks as well.

"The Streets of Paris" and "Amongst the Dead" offer rather dark and threatening music, the first mentioned ends with a variation on the resolve theme, sounding not too different from the "Luke & Leia theme" of John Williams' Star Wars in the end. The second begins with pure tones straight out of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Things become more hectic and more action paced with "Fleeing the Catacombs" and "Panzer Blockade", but nothing that resembles Medal of Honor's pure bombastic force. There are some background cues as well. "The Road to Tobruk" (stating the theme for track 7), "Passage to Iráklion" and "Ascent to the Castle" are all tracks that build on tension or on other smaller themes. But the better moments include those faster action pieces.

"'Escape from Casablanca" offers a sub theme that is brought to life with maracas, tambourine and other various instruments. Together they bring a rather upbeat but enjoyable piece of music. And there is more fun that awaits us when we cross the second half of the score, with specific MOH color and dare I say it beauty.

First we have another sub theme in "Labyrinth of the Minotaur" that gets a pure spine tingling performance when the choir joins in. But the best trio is still "Last Rites", "Battle of Monte Casino" and "The Motorcycle Chase". The first offers the most beautiful music of the series, so far. Giacchino creates a stunning magical piece to support a medieval church, and here we discover what a boys choir can add of depth and beauty. Still their best performance is found during the second mentioned track, using Latin singing to enhance a rather intriguing action track. That last mentioned track brings us the pure complex but excellent action music we have come to expect by now. The last two tracks deliver pure frenetic music, adding the robust sound we discovered in the first MOH.

There are of course added bonus tracks included as well. We start with a song, the alternate version of the main theme and that song heard as a radio broadcast. The hidden movie clip shows you how well the music functions in the game.

In a way we miss that amazing action music of the first one, but the second offers more color and a vast amount of music that rises in beauty and mystical awe. Secondly Giacchino adds more instruments to locate the setting of the game, and thirdly, you can't deny that are still so many highlights in Medal of Honor Underground. Giacchino admirers and Medal of Honor fans are bound to find a lot to their liking here. The constant variations, the numerous sub themes, the use of various instruments, they create a world MOH was born to sound like.

Tracklisting

1. May 10th, 1940 (Main Theme) (4.28) Excellent track
2. The Streets of Paris (3.48)
3. Amongst the Dead (3.15)
4. Fleeing the Catacombs (3.06)
5. Panzer Blockade (3.18)
6. The Road to Tobruk (3.21)
7. Escape from Casablanca (3.17) Excellent track
8. Passage to Iráklion (3.38)
9. Labyrinth of the Minotaur (3.13) Excellent track
10. Ascent to the Castle (3.22)
11. Last Rites (3.31)
12. Battle of Monte Cassino (3.13) Excellent track
13. The Motorcycle Chase (4.16) Excellent track
14. Returning to Paris (3.22)
15. Beneath the City (3.06)
16. Each Night he Comes Home to Me * (3.51)
17. May 10th, 1940 (Alternate Version) (4.18)
18. Er Lässt Mich Niemals Allein (OSS Radio Broadcast) (4.33)

Bonus Track
19. Movie Clip of the Game (1.05)

* Music by Michael Giacchino, Lyrics by Scott Langteau, Vocals by Bettina Spier

Total Length: 66.50
(click to rate this score)  
 
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(total of 15 votes - average 3.87/5)

Released by

DreamWorks 899020 (regular release 2000)

Orchestrations by

Tim Simonec & Michael Giacchino

Performed by

The Northwest Sinfonia & The Seattle Boys Choir